I have been spending much of my time over the last two months working on the art of line drying my laundry. Check out my previous posts, The Lost Art of Line Drying and What if it is raining?
The chore of laundry has taken on entirely new requirements than I ever thought about before. When you don't have a clothes dryer, there are a few things you have to take into consideration.
As you might have guessed, when you dry your clothing outside you really have to watch the weather and plan your laundry days accordingly (unless you live in a warm climate, with minimal rain). Especially during the winter, I try to get at least one load out anytime the sun makes an appearance. Just a few hours of direct sunlight, even in colder temperatures, will dry clothes faster than all day on a warmer but cloudy day.
Take this morning for example, the sun was out so I ran two loads before I left the house, hanging them on my way out the door. By the time I returned two and a half hours later, they were almost completely dry even though it was only 9°C (48°F).
Smaller washing machines / smaller loads
Our washing machine is smaller here and we are forced to run smaller loads of laundry, although they are front loaders so you can pack them and still get everything clean. We also have limited space to hang clothing and could not really fit much more than one or two small loads (especially inside).
More frequent loads
I find that I need to run laundry more frequently than I use to. In the past I would have one big laundry day about one a week. Now my drying is mostly dependent on daylight, forcing me to run laundry more frequently; the smaller washing machine and limited drying space also play into this change.
First thing in the morning
I use to run laundry all afternoon and evening; this was probably influenced by the fact that we did not have a washer and dryer in our apartment. I had to go down the building basement to run laundry, briefly leaving the kids in our apartment. This was easiest (and safest) to do while they were down for their afternoon nap or after daddy got home in the evening.
Laundry is now one of the first chores of the day. This has been a huge struggle for me since we moved here. But in order to take advantage of the limited sunlight at this time of year, I have to get a load started before breakfast, so it is ready to hang as soon as the sun is up.
Soap usage and soft water
The stiff laundry was hard to get use to when I first started to hang my clothes. I have quickly learned that my biggest problem was using too much soap. It is so easy to be sloppy about measuring soap, and without double rinse cycles (takes too much time), my clothes had some soap residue that made them extremely crunchy after air drying.
I also did not consider our water when determining how much soap to use. We have slightly soft water here, making it harder to rinse our soap. I should have been using even less soap based on soft water (or more if we had hard water). Who knew it could be so complicated!
Growing up, my mother always used dryer sheets to get that soft, static-free feel to our clothing. With line drying, that is no longer an option. Welcome to the world of liquid fabric softeners. Again, I have had to play with the correct amount to use to get the softness without adding too much that the clothes get crunchy with residue.
When it comes to dealing with stains, I love line drying. If I don't get the stain out the first time and, without realizing it, dry the clothing. I can still go back and treat the stain again - no hot dryer to 'set' the stain. Also, direct sunlight can do wonders for removing stains, especially on cottons. And it makes whites so much brighter. Incredible!
These are just a few things that I have learned to take into consideration as I learn to dry my clothing without a dryer. I am still learning the best way to actually hang the clothes. That is for another post.
Have you tried line drying your clothes? Any tips?
Or are you thinking about trying it? What's holding you back?
Joshua Oliver Sumner Born December 5, 2005 9:32 p.m.
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